It was unlikely the Langley Rivermen would finish the season without losing another game, and it was the Prince George Spruce Kings who ended the Riv’s 12-game point streak Thursday night with a 3-1 win over their division rivals.
A rough start put the Rivermen in a hole too deep to overcome as the Spruce Kings scored on three of their first six shots. The first two goals chased Brock Crossthwaite from the crease while Lyndon Stanwood let the first shot he faced go by him but was excellent from there on in earning the game’s third star. The Rivermen out-played the Spruce Kings for the game’s final two periods, starting to gain significant momentum later in the first period, but a great game in goal by Prince George’s Alex Murray, and a lack of puck luck saw the Rivermen suffer their first regulation loss of 2014.
It was the first time the Rivermen and Spruce Kings met each other in two and a half months but emotions ran high early and often leading to a slough of penalties on both sides. It was Prince George who had the edge in power plays with six to Langley’s two, but the Rivermen’s penalty kill stepped up big time. The lone Langley goal came midway through the second when Zach Urban blasted the puck from the far point actually through the back of the net and out into the nearside corner. Play continued but at the next whistle, the officials conferenced, eventually awarding Urban his fifth goal of the season. The change of heart by referee Nick Swaine was odd considering the goal judge was adamant the puck never went in although it was quite clear to Urban, and certainly myself, that it was a goal. It would have defied the laws of physics to have the puck go wide, ripple the net on the near side and then magically end up in the corner. The decision didn’t sit well with the Prince George bench nor with the hometown fans, but the right call was made.
The Rivermen pressed and pressed but simply could not beat Murray again. Tyson Witala was excellent in his hometown debut in Rivermen blue with several glorious chances including hitting the crossbar in the second period. But none of the Rivermen seemed to get much by the way of puck luck Thursday night.
The Riv have the chance to get the split Friday which would restore Langley’s eight point lead atop the division. If the team carries that momentum from the third period Thursday into the rematch, a different result will be very likely.
Innovative Fitness 3 Stars
1 – Alex Murray (29 saves and was excellent for PG, if not for him the end result could have been quite different)
2 – Chad Staley
3 – Lyndon Stanwood (22 saves including a couple massive stops in the third which kept the Riv in the game)